Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is Chicago (2002).
Once the most popular genre for Best Picture winners and always the one where I’ve felt disconnected from the prevailing opinions, after the ‘60s, musicals seemed to fall off entirely and almost 35 years had passed since one had won the top prize by the time Chicago came along and prompted a resurgence of the genre. It’s not as good as some of the old winners (My Fair Lady, An American in Paris, and Oliver!) or as horrible as others (The Sound of Music and West Side Story) but after years of having a pretty low opinion of it, I was happily surprised to find myself enjoying Chicago quite a bit. I’ve long been a fan of “When You’re Good to Mama” but this time almost all of the songs were just as catchy and the choreography always matched them spectacularly, finding some wonderful moments as it switched between scenes in realistic environments and on stage, reminding it was a stage musical first and embracing both art forms.
The Real Best Picture:
I have suffered through so many terrible winners during these first 75 entries and rewatched a number of films I already knew I hated so I deserved a little reciprocity that finally came with my reversal on this film. Let’s go on and call it the deserving winner.